Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Chocolate-Candy Cane Cake

It would have been so much nicer if I could have posted this recipe prior to Christmas, but I served it on Christmas Eve -- topped with birthday candles so we could sing "Happy Birthday" to Baby Jesus. And I didn't want to post it until I made sure my adjustments to the original recipe from Kraft Foods were good. And boy were they! Everyone loved this cake!

One thing I want to point out about the ingredients is the use of a pudding mix. There are MSPI-friendly pudding mixes, in particular many of the JELL-O brand mixes. Just double check the ingredients on the box, because I've seen the mixes both dairy-free and with dairy.

(By the way, this is a great short cut when you're craving dessert: Use an MSPI-friendly pudding mix and make it with rice milk. Since the rice milk is so thin, use about a quarter-cup less than the instructions call for on the box.)

You can also make this in a 9x13-inch pan. Just adjust your baking time.

Chocolate-Candy Cane Cake

1 pkg. (2-layer size) MSPI-friendly chocolate cake mix
1 pkg. (3.9 oz.) MSPI-friendly chocolate instant pudding
4 eggs
1 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup water
1 cup MSPI-friendly semisweet chocolate chips, lightly chopped
18 small candy canes, coarsely crushed (about 1 cup), divided
1 container MSPI-friendly vanilla frosting (use more frosting, if you like it thick)
Peppermint flavoring, optional
Food coloring, optional

Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans. Beat first 6 ingredients in large bowl with mixer on low speed just until moistened, stopping frequently to scrape side of bowl. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes. Stir in chocolate and 2 tablespoons crushed candy. Spoon into prepared pans.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool 10 min. Loosen cakes from sides of pans with spatula or knife. Invert cakes onto wire racks; carefully remove pans. Cool completely.

If desired, mix together frosting with a few drops of peppermint flavoring and food coloring -- I made ours green for Christmas, at my daughter's request.

Fill and frost cake with frosting. Sprinkle with remaining crushed candy just before serving.

Keep refrigerated.

Hot Cocoa

Now, if using chocolate chips is a problem for you, like were used in the previous post, then try this version of hot chocolate.

This recipe is enough for one serving but easily can be multiplied. Play around with the cocoa and sugar measurements until you reach your favorite combination.

Hot Cocoa

1 tbsp. cocoa powder
2 tbsp. sugar
1 cup rice milk
A few drops of vanilla extract

Mix the cocoa and sugar together in a small saucepan. Pour in a splash of rice milk and continue to mix until you get a nice paste. Begin heating the mixture on medium, slowly stirring in more milk and then the vanilla. Continue to stir until everything is dissolved and warmed. Do not boil!

Serve warm.

My Family's Favorite Hot Chocolate

On these cold winter nights, there's nothing like hot chocolate to keep things toasty. Don't forget the marshmallows! And if you happen to have any extra candy canes laying around, crumble part of one into your mug and stir until it dissolves. Peppermint hot chocolate is the best!

I'm posting two recipes. The first is from Mollie Katzen's "Sunlight Cafe." I've substituted rice milk for the regular milk. It makes two large servings. (Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar. I like my hot chocolate a little sweeter, so I add more sugar.)

My Family's Favorite Hot Chocolate

1/4 cup MSPI-friendly semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. sugar
3 cups rice milk
A pinch of salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the chocolate chips and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan. Pour in the rice milk, then add the salt and vanilla.

Place the saucepan over medium heat, stirring slowly as the mixture heats up and the chocolate melts. Don't let it boil.

Serve hot.

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I should have done this ages ago. So much easier!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Apple Cranberry Bread

I love the burst of tartness when you bite into a piece of cranberry in this bread!

The recipe comes from Taste of Home. Unlike most quick breads, this one uses a very low amount of oil, making it a healthier choice!

Don't be alarmed when the dough is rather stiff when you mix it up. The fresh apples and cranberries give off a lot of moisture when the bread is baked.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes.

Double Chocolate Dreams

I was baking up a couple batches of the cookies earlier this week for a cookie exchange, but after baking a double batch of the gingersnaps, I was out of flour AND sugar! What to do? I used a cake mix!

This recipe comes from "Cake Mix Magic." It's super easy and perfect for someone who is intimidated by all the measuring involved in baking.

Double Chocolate Dreams

1 pkg. MSPI-friendly devil's food cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups MSPI-friendly semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped nuts

In a large mixer bowl, combine cake mix, eggs and oil. With a wooden spoon or on low speed of mixer, mix for 1 minute or until well blended. Dough will be stiff. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets (or use Silpat or parchment paper). Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 12 minutes or just until set. Cool 1 minute on baking sheets on a wire rack, then transfer cookies to rack and cool completely.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

*** Use yellow cake mix for a traditional chocolate chip cookie.

Aunt Joey's Gingersnaps

Aunt Joey really isn't my aunt. She taught my Sunday School class for three years when I was a little girl. Such a fun-loving lady, and her cookies reflect her personality -- sugar and spice and everything nice!

Aunt Joey's Gingersnaps

3/4 cup shortening
1 cups white sugar
1 beaten egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup molasses

Cream together shortening and sugar. Mix in eggs. Add flour, spices and baking soda. Finally, mix in molasses. Form dough into walnut-size balls and roll in a bowl of white sugar. Place on cookie sheet, allowing room to spread. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Let stand on cookie sheet for two minutes then remove to cooling rack.

*** The trick to these cookies is to pull them out of the oven while they still appear to be uncooked in the middle -- the sugar-coated outsides will be firm and cracked. Don't worry, the rest of the cookie will firm up as it cools. This will keep them soft and chewy!

Russian Teacakes

Still have some more holiday baking to finish? Here are a few more recipes.

This one comes from baking extraordinaire Laura. And for those of you who can't eat eggs, this one is a winner!

Russian Teacakes

1 cup MSPI-friendly margarine
½ cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2¼ cups flour
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cups chopped nuts

Mix margarine, powdered sugar and vanilla. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Roll the dough into inch-size balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. While warm, roll each cookie in powdered sugar.

Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ham and Broccoli Breakfast Bake

I made an egg casserole for my mom's group yesterday. I adapted my version from this recipe. This would be perfect for Christmas morning!

Not a fan of ham and broccoli? Then substitute something else, like sausage or bacon with sauteed mushrooms or onions or peppers or spinach. Or make it vegetarian by using only veggies. The possibilities are endless!

Ham and Broccoli Breakfast Bake

1 lb. ham, cubed
1 (10 oz.) box frozen broccoli cuts, thawed
4 cups frozen hash brown potatoes
1 cup MSPI-friendly baking mix, such as Bisquick
1/4 cup MSPI-friendly margarine, melted
1-3/4 cups rice milk
1 tbsp. dried onion
1 tsp. seasoning salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 eggs

Heat oven to 400ºF. Grease rectangular baking dish, 13x9x2 inches. Stir together ham, broccoli and potatoes in baking dish.

Stir together remaining ingredients until blended. Pour into baking dish.

Bake uncovered 45 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Laura made this recipe from Hershey's Kitchens the other evening, as well. Instead of using Kisses, she pressed four MSPI-friendly chocolate chips into the center of the cookies.

A few things to remember: Make sure your peanut butter is safe. Also, Laura substituted apple juice for the milk in the recipe, but rice milk would work fine as well.

Mini Pecan Pies

The Christmas season is upon us. It's time to get baking!

My friend Laura had quite the buffet of sweets at her home the other evening, and she was so sweet. She set aside a special tray of goodies that were safe for me to eat. Isn't she great!?

So I, of course, asked for her recipes, and here is the first one. So yummy! The recipe comes from Bake or Break. The only substitution is to use MSPI-friendly margarine instead of butter and make sure your pie crust pastry is safe, as well.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Zesty Turkey & Rice

Our leftover turkey from Thanksgiving disappeared pretty quickly in our house. One way I used it up was with this recipe from Swanson Broth. (As always, make sure the broth you use is MSPI-friendly!)

No turkey on hand? Just use chicken!

White Bean Chili

Here's the other kind of chili that I made. The recipe comes from the FatFree Vegan Kitchen.

I did a few things differently than the original recipe.

First of all, instead of dirtying a second pan, I caramelized the onions in the soup pot prior to adding the other ingredients. Also, I didn't bother with using the masa harina to thicken the chili. Instead, I just mashed some of the beans in the pot with a large spoon. The mashed beans really helped "thickify" things.

If you don't like things too spicy, take it easy with the jalapeno, or skip it all together.

For the carnivores in your life, you can add some cooked chicken to the recipe.

Texas Chili

So, I've been on a bit of a hiatus. Sorry about that! But I'm back with a bunch of yummy recipes!

We got together with a group of friends last night from church. I made a couple of different kinds of chili -- both of which are delicious! This one comes from my mom. It's a real "man-pleaser" because it's so meaty. I made it one time for a chili cook off and won!

Texas Chili

3 lb. boneless beef (1-inch cubes)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4-6 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
3 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. oregano
2 cups MSPI-friendly beef broth
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 can pinto beans

Cook beef in oil over medium heat. Lower heat and add garlic. Combine chili powder, cumin and flour. Coat meat with mixture. Add remaining seasonings and broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer 2-5 hours (depending on the type of meat). Add more liquid, if necessary. Add beans last half hour. Serve with toppings, such as chopped onions, jalapeno peppers, tortilla chips and shredded cheese and sour cream for those who can eat them.

Mom's Hints: She recommends using beef chuck. It may take more trimming, but it has more flavor and is more tender. You can also substitute pork for part of the meat for a nice flavor combination. Be careful to stir often -- the flour may cause it to stick and possibly scorch. Keep the temperature low. Start with the smaller amount of chili powder, then add more later if necessary. This recipe is actually better if made a day ahead and then reheated.

My Hints: Add more beans to help stretch the chili and feed more people. You can also thin it out with more broth for the same reason.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Moist & Savory Stuffing

Did you know that several of Pepperidge Farm's stuffing mixes are MSPI-friendly? A great shortcut for your busy Thanksgiving Day!

Here's their traditional stuffing recipe. You can play around with the recipe to make it special: add sausage, apples, pecans, carrots, wild rice, etc. Just be sure you use a safe veggie, chicken or turkey broth.

Pumpkin Pie

This is the pumpkin pie recipe that I've decided to make for Thanksgiving.

The recipe comes from this mom's blog -- my kids' allergies -- and it has a lot of good tips and ideas for those dealing with children's allergies. Check it out sometime!

Mashed Potatoes

I haven't decided yet which recipe I'm going to use for our mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving Day. I've narrowed it down to two:

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Creamy Vegan Mashed Potatoes -- Using MSPI-friendly ingredients (regular mayonnaise and rice milk)

What do you think?

Green Bean Casserole

I know for many people, Thanksgiving isn't Thanksgiving unless there's Green Bean Casserole on the table.

Here's a vegan version of the iconic recipe. Obviously, you'll want to use an MSPI-friendly milk and be sure you use French's Original French Fried Onions, because they are dairy-free. This recipe is a little more work than the traditional recipe that uses a can of cream of mushroom soup, but hopefully the extra work will be worth it!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pecan Lemon Bars

Did you know that Pillsbury's refrigerated sugar cookie dough is MSPI-friendly? What a great shortcut! Make sure you buy Pillsbury, because the store brands I've looked at are NOT safe.

Here's a great dessert recipe from Taste of Home to use that MSPI-friendly sugar cookie dough. It's a nice twist on traditional lemon bars. The only substitution you have to make is using dairy-free margarine instead of butter.

The bars are super rich and sweet. Don't skimp on the lemon peel; that's where you get the best lemon flavor!

Easiest Indian Stew

Here's a tasty meal that will warm you up on a chilly fall night. The recipe comes from the December issue of Everyday Food Magazine.

My hubby doesn't think a meal is complete without some sort of meat, so I substituted two chicken breasts for one can of chickpeas. Just slice up the chicken and cook it with the onions. Also, I didn't have a lime or yogurt on hand, so I just left those out.

Speaking of yogurt, have you tried the coconut milk yogurt from So Delicious? It is super yummy! And the coconut flavor would really complement this dish.

Easiest Indian Stew

1 cup long-grain white rice
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
salt and ground pepper
1 tbsp. curry powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
3 cups plain tomato sauce
2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/2 cup MSPI-friendly plain yogurt

Cook rice according to package instructions; cover, and keep warm.

While rice is cooking, heat oil over medium in a large skillet. Add onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add curry powder and ginger; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add tomato sauce, chickpeas and 1-1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in lime juice; season with salt and pepper.

Serve stew with rice and yogurt.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Italian Chicken Rice Soup

Here's an easy soup recipe from Taste of Home that is sure to warm you up on a chilly evening.

Obviously, be sure all your ingredients are MSPI-friendly.

I added a bag of frozen veggies to the pot. And since I didn't want to wait around for the rice to cook, I used orzo -- a rice-shaped pasta. Don't have any chicken on hand? Some cooked Italian sausage would be really good in this, too!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Cocktail Meatballs in Barbecue Sauce

Here's a recipe from my mom that's a favorite for parties.

The recipe makes a ton of sauce. If you like, you can set aside half of the sauce prior to adding the meatballs and freeze it for later use. When ready to use, thaw and heat sauce then add the meatballs.

Cocktail Meatballs in Barbecue Sauce

1 can jellied cranberry sauce
1 (12 oz.) bottle chili sauce (You'll find it near the ketchup, barbecue sauce, etc.)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 lbs. 1-inch MSPI-friendly meatballs
1-2 packages Li'l Smokies (opt.)

Mix sauce ingredients and heat until cranberry sauce is melted. Add meatballs and smokies and simmer one hour.


Here's a great meatball recipe from my mom that I adapted to make it MSPI-friendly. Make the meatballs smaller in size for the Cocktail Meatballs in Barbecue Sauce recipe or make them a little bigger for spaghetti.

These freeze really well. Once baked and cooled, place them in a single layer on a clean cookie sheet and place in the freezer. Once frozen, place the meatballs in a storage bag and put back in the freezer. They can be added to your favorite spaghetti sauce directly from the freezer.


2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup rice milk
2/3 cup MSPI-friendly fine dry bread crumbs
2 tsp. A-1 sauce (or more rice milk)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 lbs. ground beef, turkey, chicken or a combination

Combine first six ingredients and crumble in the meat. Mix it all together and shape into 1-inch (or larger) balls. Place on cooking spray-coated baking sheet and bake at 375 until browned. Drain and cool.

Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your meatball, but 1-inch balls take about 25-30 minutes. If you're unsure whether they are cooked through, cut one open to test it out!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

No-Oven Peanut Butter Squares

Yes, you have died and gone to heaven. These decadent, finger-licking, almost-like-a-Reeses-Peanut-Butter-Cup bars can be made MSPI-friendly!

The recipe comes from Kraft Foods. The trick is to just make sure you are using MSPI-friendly versions of the ingredients.

If you can't find semi-sweet chocolate that's safe, go ahead and use 12 ounces of safe chocolate chips.

Now you won't feel completely deprived on Halloween when everyone else is diving in to the chocolate!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Melody's Spinach Salad

I was going through a notebook of recipes and came across this one that my friend Melody often brought to events with our friends and at church. She has since moved away, so I am so grateful that she shared this recipe with me! It's so good, and I am super excited because it's MSPI-friendly!

Melody's Spinach Salad

1 cup vegetable oil (canola, safflower or olive oil, but not extra virgin)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/3 cup cider vinegar
3 bags baby spinach
6 crisp strips of bacon, crumbled
5 mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch green onions, sliced (use white parts only)

Whisk together oil, sugar, salt and dry mustard. Slowly add in vinegar. Set dressing aside and allow it to set up.

Toss together salad ingredients. Add salad dressing immediately before serving -- you may not need all of the dressing.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pear Bundt Cake

This recipe from Taste of Home is incredibly easy and yields a moist and tender cake.

I used an MSPI-friendly yellow cake mix (several Duncan Hines mixes are safe) instead of the white cake. And since I was going the yellow route, I went ahead and opted to use two eggs instead of one egg and two egg whites. Do what works best for you!

Chicken With Mushrooms

Mushrooms are one of those ingredients that I often buy as an impulse purchase. They look good in the store and are on sale, so I grab them. But then I forget about them, and I often end up tossing them. Well, I was determined to use them this last time I purchased a pound. So after doing some looking around, I opted for this meal.

My recipe comes from this Taste of Home recipe for Chicken Marsala, but I couldn't call my version "Marsala" because I didn't use the wine. (I also skipped the marinating step.) So I opted for the boring name. Anyway, it's delicious. My husband loved it -- especially the mushrooms!

If you want to go the "Marsala" route, just make sure you use MSPI-friendly substitutions.

Chicken With Mushrooms

6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 oz. each)
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 tbsp. MSPI-friendly margarine
1 cup MSPI-safe chicken broth
1 lb. sliced fresh mushrooms
1 tbsp. dried parsley flakes

Flatten chicken to 1/2-inch thickness. Combine the flour, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, paprika and pepper; sprinkle over both sides of chicken. In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook chicken in 1 tablespoon oil and margarine for 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Transfer to a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Gradually add broth to skillet, stirring to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Strain sauce; set aside. In the same skillet, cook mushrooms in remaining oil for 2 minutes; drain. Stir sauce into mushrooms; heat through. Stir in parsley. Pour over chicken. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until chicken juices run clear.

NOTE: If sauce isn't as thick as you would like. Mix together 1 tablespoon corn starch with 1-2 tablespoons water and add to the sauce after bringing it to a boil.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ham and Scalloped Potatoes

It's rainy and cold outside, and I need comfort food! This classic dish that's been adapted from "Betty Crocker's New Cookbook" is all about comfort. Omit the ham, and you have a fantastic, vegetarian side dish.

Ham and Scalloped Potatoes

2 lbs. boiling or baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tbsp. MSPI-friendly margarine
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 1/2 cups rice milk
1 tbsp. MSPI-friendly margarine
1 1/2 cups smoked ham, cubed

Heat oven to 350. Grease bottom and sides of a 2-quart casserole with shortening or use cooking spray.

Melt 3 tablespoons margarine in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion in margarine about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and bubbly.

Stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in ham.

Spread potatoes in casserole. Pour sauce over potatoes. Dot with 1 tablespoon margarine.

Cover and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lentil Soup

My friend Tina and I were talking about lentils the other day, and I mentioned that I had a lentil soup recipe that I really liked. So here you go!

This recipe comes from the "Comfort Food Fast" cookbook by Anne Gardon. It's super easy, and the addition of leek really ups the flavor.

Make a double batch and freeze the leftovers for an easy meal later on.

Lentil Soup

1 cup dried lentils
2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for serving
1 onion, minced
1 leek, white part only, minced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper
chopped fresh parsley

Soak lentils in cold water overnight or longer, changing the water twice a day. Drain.

In a heavy saucepan, heat two tablespoons oil and cook onion and leek over medium heat, stirring, until soft, about three minutes.

Add lentils, celery, carrot, garlic, bay leaf and stock. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until lentils are cooked, about 45 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and drizzle with oil before serving.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Skillet-Roasted Potatoes

My daughter, Libby, doesn't like potatoes. I know! Isn't that crazy? The only way she'll eat them is if they're french fries (of course!) or roasted. Since french fries aren't the healthiest potato option, we eat the roasted potatoes every few weeks. I usually roast them in the oven, but making them on the stove top is quicker!

Here's a simple stove top recipe from Cook's Illustrated. I also like to add about a teaspoon of rosemary.

Skillet-Roasted Potatoes

1 1/2 lb. Red Bliss potatoes , small or medium, scrubbed and unpeeled
2 tbsp. olive oil
3/4 tsp. kosher salt (or sea salt)
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

If using small potatoes (1 1/2- to 2-inch diameter), halve each potato. If using medium potatoes (2- to 3-inch diameter), quarter each potato to create 3/4- to 1-inch chunks. Rinse potatoes in cold water and drain well; spread on clean kitchen towel and thoroughly pat dry.

Heat oil in heavy-bottomed 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add potatoes cut side down in single layer; cook, without stirring, until golden brown (oil should sizzle but not smoke), 5 to 7 minutes. Using tongs, turn potatoes skin side down if using halved small potatoes or second cut side down if using quartered medium potatoes; cook, without stirring, until deep golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes longer. Stir potatoes, then redistribute in single layer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until potatoes are tender (paring knife can be inserted into potatoes with no resistance), 6 to 9 minutes.

When potatoes are tender, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss or stir gently to combine; serve immediately.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Apple Strudel

Did you know that Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry is MSPI-friendly? Isn't that fantastic?! It literally opens up a world of possibilities in the dessert-making department!

One of my favorite apple desserts is a strudel, and since I love to use short cuts when possible, puff pastry makes the strudel so easy!

Here's a recipe from Pepperidge Farm that I like to use. If you want to make your life even easier, follow this recipe. It uses apple pie filling.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Roasted Chicken Breasts

I mentioned in an earlier post that I like to cook up large amounts of meat and freeze meal-size portions for later use.

Here's how I do chicken -- I have the "Barefoot Contessa" Ina Garten from the Food Network to thank for this recipe. You save money by using the bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and the meat is more flavorful.

Roasted Chicken Breasts

3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
3 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through.

Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice or shred. You will have 4 to 6 cups of chicken. Divide into amounts you will need for meals, wrap and freeze.

When ready to use frozen chicken, thaw in refrigerator for 24 hours for best results.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Citrusy Apple Cobbler

I'm slowly making my way through a ton of apples that my grandparents gave us. Here's a recipe that I adapted from Taste of Home. The orange juice adds depth to the flavor of the dish. I increased the size of the recipe and decided to take a short cut and use Bisquick. I'm all about short cuts!

If you prefer not to use the short cut, just follow the original recipe, substituting shortening for the butter and rice milk for the milk.

Citrusy Apple Cobbler

1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/3 tsp. ground nutmeg
6 cups sliced peeled tart apples (about 6 large)
1/2 cup orange juice
2 cups MSPI-friendly baking mix
3 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. MSPI-friendly margarine, melted
3/4 cup rice milk

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add apples and orange juice; toss to coat. Transfer to an 9-in. x 13-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray.

For topping, mix together the baking mix, sugar, margarine and rice milk. Drop mounds of the mixture on top of the apples.

Bake at 375° for 40-45 minutes, or until topping is golden brown and apple mixture is bubbly.

Sweet and Sour Country Ribs

This recipe from Everyday Food magazine is currently cooking away in my slow cooker. It was a snap to throw together -- it only took a few minutes.

The country-style ribs I used were frozen solid, so I'm planning to adjust the cooking time just a little to compensate for that.

This is such a cheap meal! I got the ribs on sale back in July for 99 cents a pound, and I'm going to get two family meals (plus leftovers) out of this!

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Freezer French Toast

This looks like a great way to make French toast without dirtying a ton of dishes every time you get a craving. Instead, make one big batch, freeze it and heat pieces when you like. A toaster oven would make this even easier! I wish I had a toaster oven, but -- alas! -- no counter space!

The recipe is adapted from the Freezer Supper Swappers.

Freezer French Toast

4 eggs
1 cup rice milk
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
10 slices MSPI-friendly, day-old French bread (3/4 inch thick)
1 to 2 tbsp. margarine, melted

In a large bowl, beat eggs, rice milk, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg. Place bread in a well-greased
13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish. Pour egg mixture over bread. Let soak for several minutes, turning once to coat. Freeze until firm. Package in Ziploc bags.

To bake, place bread on a well-greased baking sheet. Dot with margarine. Bake at 450° for 7 minutes; turn and bake 10-12 minutes longer or until golden brown.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Chicken and Black Bean Chili

With fall officially here, my cooking takes a turn ... for the freezer. A ton of cold weather foods -- soups, stews, casseroles -- lend themselves nicely to freezer cooking. I usually make a double recipe of something, feed my family one and then freeze the other for later use. It's so convenient to have a well-stocked freezer!

Plus, my bestest girlfriend, Tina, is about to pop out baby No. 3 and is busily stocking her own freezer with meals for his/her arrival. Tina's daughter, Kimberly, can't have milk and all their family meals are dairy free, so she is a regular reader/contributor to this blog!

So, Tina, I'm posting this puppy (and others to follow) for you ... Love ya! ;)

This recipe comes from the Freezer Supper Swappers.

Chicken and Black Bean Chili

1 - 15 oz. can black beans, drained
2 cups cooked chicken, diced
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 cup yellow onions, diced
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 - 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
2 tbsp. chili powder
1/4 cup (or to taste) canned jalapenos, drained and sliced

Combine all ingredients in freezer-safe container and freeze. When ready to cook it, thaw in fridge overnight.

Oven preparation: Preheat oven to 325. Spray one 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Add chili. Bake pan covered for 2 hours.

Slow cooker preparation: Turn the slow cooker to low and cook for 5-6 hours.

Stove top preparation: Place in stockpot and simmer the chili over low heat for 2-3 hours, stirring often until thickened.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fusilli in Broccoli and Pine Nut Sauce

I love broccoli, pine nuts, basil and pasta. This Associated Press recipe I found recently in the newspaper has all four!

Fusilli in Broccoli and Pine Nut Sauce

1 head broccoli (about 1 1/4 lb.)
3 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
12 oz. whole-wheat fusilli pasta
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Ground black pepper, to taste

Separate the broccoli florets from the stalks. Chop the florets into small pieces and set aside. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the tough outer skin from the stalks. Cut the peeled stalks into 1-inch chunks.

In a medium saucepan, combine the garlic, salt and water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli stalks, reduce heat, cover and simmer until very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Transfer the broccoli stalks, garlic and cooking liquid to a food processor. Add the pine nuts and olive oil, then process until smooth (use caution when pureeing hot liquids).

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until nearly tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the reserved broccoli florets and continue cooking until the pasta and broccoli are tender, about another 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the sauce and chopped basil, then toss well. Season with black pepper.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Pan Sautéed Chicken with Vegetables & Herbs

Here's a fairly simple recipe from Campbell's Kitchens that would be perfect for a crisp fall night. As always, be sure you use MSPI-friendly chicken stock.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cranberry Apple Tart

It's apple season around here, and I'm constantly looking for new recipes that utilize the fruit. I've got a huge box of apples sitting in my basement, thanks to my grandparents' overflowing tree.

My friend Laura passed on this recipe to me. She found the original recipe (from the Associate Press) in the newspaper. It looks fabulous! Can't wait to try it. Thanks, Laura!

Cranberry Apple Tart

Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes
Makes two 10-inch tarts

1 ball MSPI-friendly prepared pizza dough, room temperature
8 tbsp. MSPI-friendly margarine (1 stick)
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cardamom
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ cup packed brown sugar
8 medium tart apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
½ cup dried cranberries

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

On a lightly floured counter, divide the dough in two. Use a rolling pin to roll out each piece of dough into a 10-inch circle about ¼-inch thick. Transfer the crusts to the prepared baking sheet (you may need to use 2 sheets). Set aside.

Place the margarine in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high until melted. Mix in the cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and brown sugar. Use a pastry brush to coat both crusts with some of the margarine mixture; reserve the remaining margarine.

Arrange half of the apple slices over each crust, then brush the apples with the remaining margarine. Sprinkle half of the cranberries over each tart. Bake for 25 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned and the apples are tender. Let cool before serving.

*** For a nice finish, dust the tart with powdered sugar, or a blend of powdered sugar and cinnamon.

*** The dried cranberries can be soaked in water or juice for 15 minutes before using. This isn’t necessary, but it makes them plump and juicy. Be sure to drain them well before placing them on the tarts.

***One recipe of pizza dough is enough for this recipe.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Creole Black Beans

My friend Holly does once-a-month cooking -- she has four little girls; once-a-month cooking is a necessity! She recently posted this recipe to her Once a Month Yumminess blog. Not only is the recipe once-a-month cooking, it's also a slow cooker recipe. Super easy!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Pasta Fagioli

This soup brings back memories from college. My sorority's house cook used to cook this up and serve it in bread bowls. Comfort food at its best!

The recipe below was adapted from Sweet Savory Southern. It's simmering away on my stove as I type this. The house smells divine! We've been experiencing some fall-like weather the past few days, so I can't wait to curl up with a bowl of this and some garlic bread.

This recipe makes a gigantic batch of soup! Either be prepared to freeze part of it or halve the recipe. If you do freeze the soup, make sure you let it thaw completely in the refrigerator prior to reheating, or the pasta will turn to mush!

For a vegetarian version, skip the sausage and add more beans and use vegetable broth instead of beef broth.

Pasta Fagioli

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 16 oz. pkg. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
½ large (or 1 medium) onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, thinly sliced
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can white cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
64 oz. beef broth
28 oz. can tomato sauce
2 tsp. dried parsley (or 1 tbsp. fresh parsley)
1/2 tsp. dried basil (or 1 tsp. fresh basil)
4 oz. small dry pasta

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat, and brown the sausage, crumbling it as it cooks. Once brown, remove sausage from pot with a slotted spoon.

In the same pot, add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery and salt, and saute over medium heat until vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Add sausage back to the pot and the can of diced tomatoes (do not drain), stir briefly, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the beans, and add the beef broth and tomato sauce. Add in all of the seasonings, stir well, turn the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil. Once it boils, turn down to low heat, cover, and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Add the dry pasta and continue to simmer on low for another 30 minutes.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Baby food ... made in the Crock-Pot

I saw this post on A Year of CrockPotting and thought it would be good to share.

I've been making JD's food now for several weeks, but I usually steam the veggies/fruit on the stove to avoid turning on the oven during the heat of summer. Using the slow cooker would give the food the richness of being roasted without turning on the oven. Brilliant!

Dairy-free Basil Pesto Sauce

I have a ton of fresh basil, and my absolute favorite way to use up basil is to make pesto. My usual pesto recipe is filled with Parmesan cheese, and I obviously can't eat that now! So I had to figure something else out.

The beauty of pesto is that it freezes incredibly well. Pour the sauce into Ziploc baggies and freeze flat. When you're ready to use it, allow it to thaw in the fridge and then add it to your cooked foods. No need to heat it! The residual heat from your cooked food will be more than efficient.

My favorite way to eat pesto is with pasta and sliced chicken breasts. Prepare the chicken whatever way you prefer (grill, saute, roast, etc.) and toss with the pasta and sauce. Yummy!

I adapted the following recipe from "The MSPI Guidebook/Cookbook." The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup lemon juice, which I thought excessive. I also made a few other changes.

Dairy-free Basil Pesto Sauce

1 cup fresh basil leaves
3 peeled garlic cloves or 1 tbsp. jarred minced garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tbsp. lemon juice
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process until mixture becomes a smooth paste. Add more salt to taste. Makes 1/2 cup.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Beef & Pasta

Here's a simple recipe from Campbell's Kitchens that I adapted slightly. Here's the original recipe. It's more or less glorified spaghetti with meat sauce.

I opted to use A-1 sauce instead of the Worcestershire sauce. You could also just leave it out all together. I also used 1 pound of ground beef and beef broth, because that's what I had on hand.

Beef & Pasta

1 lb. ground beef
1 can (14 oz.) MSPI-friendly beef broth
1 tbsp. A-1 sauce
1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves, crushed
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 can (about 8 oz.) stewed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups uncooked medium tube-shaped or corkscrew-shaped pasta

Cook beef in skillet until browned. Pour off fat. Add broth, A-1, oregano, garlic and tomatoes. Heat to a boil. Stir in pasta. Cover and cook over low heat 10 minutes, stirring often. Uncover.

Cook 5 minutes or until done. Serves 4.

Fruit Smoothie

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth. I've been busy ... going on vacation, enjoying the end of summer, avoiding the computer, gearing up for the fall. You know, the same things you've been doing!

Anyway, my friend Laura sent me this recipe. Haven't had the chance to make it yet, but it sure looks yummy! Thanks, Laura!

Fruit Smoothie

1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen strawberries in syrup
1 banana, peeled
2 cups orange juice
2 tbsp. honey
2 cups ice

In a blender, combine all the ingredients except the ice; blend on medium speed until smooth. Add the ice and blend until slushy. Pour into glasses and serve.

Note from Laura: I made this recipe using fresh strawberries and added extra honey to compensate for the lack of syrup in the frozen berries.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pizza Soup

Another great slow cooker recipe from A Year of CrockPotting. It has all the flavors of pizza. Just skip the sprinkle of cheese, and you're MSPI-safe and fancy-free!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mac 'N' Cheez

While we're on the foods-that-masquerade-as-cheese theme, I decided to try a recipe for Mac 'N' Cheez. I adapted this recipe from the FatFree Vegan Kitchen. The "cheez" flavor comes from the nutritional yeast, which can be purchased at natural foods stores or ordered online. The classic yellow/orange color comes from the turmeric.

Although this version doesn't taste exactly like the classic, cheesy version, the smoothness of the sauce is spot-on. Experiment with the spices if you're concerned the flavor will be too exotic for you. Feel free to mix in peas, chopped ham, etc., as well.

Mac 'N' Cheez

1 pound macaroni or other small pasta
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup rice milk
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. turmeric
pinch cayenne pepper
black pepper to taste
1/4 MSPI-friendly margarine

Put the pasta on to boil, according to package directions. While it's cooking, blend all remaining ingredients together in a blender. When the pasta is al dente, drain it, reserving about a 1/2 cup of the cooking water, and return the pasta to the pan.

Add the sauce mixture and cook, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens. Mix in the margarine and allow to melt. Add a little of the pasta water if more moistness is needed. Adjust the seasonings to taste.

*** Shortcut: If you would rather make your Mac 'N' Cheez from a box, Road's End Organics makes a decent Mac & Chreese. I've seen it at Whole Foods or you can buy it online.

Vegan Goldfish Crackers

I just came across this recipe and had to share it. Now that JD is starting to eat solid foods, I know that snacking is just around the corner. Here's a dairy-free version of a childhood staple, courtesy of Shmooed Food!

I haven't made them yet, but I will soon. I'll let you know how they turn out!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Fruit Salad Pie

Here's a favorite recipe from my mom. She's been making it for years. It always reminds me of home!

Fruit Salad Pie

1 8-oz. can crushed pineapple
1 lb. can apricot halves
1/4 cup sugar
2-1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
dash salt
2 small bananas, sliced
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 MSPI-friendly baked pie shell
whipped cream

Heat pineapple and apricots till softened and broken up. Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add to fruit, stirring till thickened and clear. Cool mixture completely. Add bananas and marshmallows. Pour into baked shell and allow to set in refrigerator. Serve with whipped cream -- for those who aren't on MSPI diet!

Black Bean Soup

I just realized that I've never posted this recipe. It's one of my favorites. So easy, low-fat, yummy and satisfying. I think I found it years ago in a magazine (maybe Redbook?) but don't know for sure. It's really good!

Black Bean Soup

1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 cans (1 lb. each) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can MSPI-friendly chicken or vegetable broth

Saute onion in oil till tender. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer 15 minutes. Remove 1 cup soup and puree in blender. (Be very careful! Hot liquids can pop the lid when blenders are turned on!) Return to soup. Serve with garnish: red bell pepper, chopped cilantro, chopped green onion, corn chips, etc.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tomato-Cucumber Salad

I found this recipe in the Aug./Sept. issue of Taste of Home. The original recipe calls for mozzarella cheese, but the salad is still wonderful without it! A great way to utilize some of summer's favorite veggies!

I left out the green peppers (Hubby isn't a fan of peppers!) and substituted plain black olives for the Greek olives (because that's what I had on hand).

Tomato-Cucumber Salad

1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, quartered and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 small green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup thinly sliced onions
12 pitted Greek olives, sliced
2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1 tbsp. minced fresh basil

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the first seven ingredients; shake well.

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, onions, olives, parsley and basil. Drizzle with dressing; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Serve with a slotted spoon.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Beef Sandwiches

I adapted this recipe from "New Flavors From Your Crockery Cooker." I highly recommend doubling the recipe, especially when you can find the roast on sale. The leftover meat freezes incredibly well!

Beef Sandwiches

1 2-1/2 to 3 lb. boneless beef chuck pot roast
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp. A-1 Steak Sauce
1 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
3 cloves garlic, minced
MSPI-friendly rolls
MSPI-friendly barbecue sauce
Sliced red onions

Trim fat from meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. If necessary, cut roast to fit into a 3-1/2 or 4 quart crockery cooker. (If doubling recipe, use a larger cooker.) Place meat in cooker. Add onion, water, A-1 sauce, oregano and garlic.

Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours. Remove meat from cooker, reserving juices. Pour the juice mixture into a small container and place it in the freezer for an hour. Using two forks, shred the meat and put back in slow cooker to keep warm. Remove the juice container from the freezer and skim off the fats. Pour the juice mixture back over the shredded beef. Reheat in slow cooker on high until warm.

Serve the meat on rolls with MSPI-friendly barbecue sauce and sliced red onions.

Blueberry Squares

This is an old Weight Watchers recipe. Super easy and yummy! And just so you know, the bars will come out of the oven all puffed up but will quickly fall once they begin to cool.

Blueberry Squares

1 package angel food cake mix, about 14 1/2 oz
22 oz light fruit pie filling, blueberry

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine ingredients. Pour batter into an ungreased, 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish; bake for 30 minutes. Cool and cut into 24 pieces.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Granola Bites

My friend Tina passed on this recipe to me. She was looking for a healthy snack for her daughter, who's dairy intolerant. She ended up making quite a few changes to the original recipe. Tina reduced the amount of sugar and oil used and added applesauce. If your little one needs more calories, follow the original more closely.

Be forewarned, these aren't meant to be cookies, therefore, they aren't super-duper sweet -- which is perfect for little ones.

Granola Bites

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil or other vegetable oil
1/2 cup (heaping) apple sauce
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups regular oats
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350. Spray nonstick cooking spray into each muffin cup.

Mix brown sugar, oil and eggs in a large bowl until smooth. Combine the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Stir flour/baking powder mix and remaining ingredients into the sugar/oil mixture.

Drop a heaping tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup. Spread batter with spoon or fingers to evenly cover the bottom of the muffin cup.

Bake until edges are brown, about 12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes in the muffin pan then remove for complete cooling.

Makes approximately 48 granola circles.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes.

Confetti Sausage & Rice

Another recipe from Laura. If you can't find MSPI-friendly bouillon granules, substitute 2 cups of safe chicken broth for the water and the bouillon.

Confetti Sausage & Rice

1 lb. fully cooked smoked sausage, cut into ½ inch slices
1 tbsp. dairy-free margarine or oil
2 tbsp. chopped onion
¼ cup chopped green pepper
¼ cup chopped sweet red pepper
¼ cup chopped celery
2 cups hot water
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
2/3 cup frozen peas and carrots
1 can (4 oz.) mushroom stems and pieces, drained
¼ cup frozen corn
2 tsp. chicken bouillon granules

In a large skillet, brown sausage in butter; remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm. In the drippings, sauté the onion, peppers and celery until tender. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until rice is tender. Return the sausage to the pan; heat through.

Shepherd's Pie

My friend Laura passed on a couple of recipes to me. The original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, which isn't MSPI-friendly. So just leave it out, or try substituting 1 teaspoon of A-1 Steak Sauce. Also, be sure to double check all the products you use to make sure they're safe as well.

Shepherd’s Pie

1 lb. ground beef
½ cup onion, diced
1 (10 oz. pkg.) mixed frozen vegetables
1 (10¾ oz.) can MSPI-friendly condensed tomato soup
1 tsp. A-1 Steak Sauce
¼ tsp. dried thyme (or Italian seasoning)
MSPI-friendly tater tots

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cook beef and onion in a large skillet until meat is brown. Drain grease from pan. Run cold water over the frozen vegetables until they separate. Add vegetables and ¼ cup water to the skillet with the beef. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the soup, A-1 sauce and thyme.

Transfer mixture to a 1 ½ quart casserole baking dish. Top with tater tots.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until hot.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Chicken & Shrimp with Orzo

I was at the library yesterday, perusing the cookbooks. Saw one I've checked out before, "New Flavors From Your Crockery Cooker" by Better Homes and Gardens, and remembered that it had a ton of great recipes in it. So, I checked it out again, but this time I'm focusing on MSPI-friendly recipes.

The following recipe is one I made a few years ago when I had the book before. It's excellent and would work really well for company. Just serve the feta cheese on the side for those who can eat it.

Chicken & Shrimp with Orzo

12 oz. skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 14-1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, or diced tomatoes with onion and garlic
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 cup port wine or MSPI-friendly chicken broth
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 8-oz. pkg. frozen, peeled, cooked shrimp, thawed and drained
1 9-oz. pkg. frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and coarsely chopped
2 cups hot cooked orzo
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (for non-MSPI eaters!)

Rinse chicken; pat dry. Cut chicken thighs into quarters. In a 4- or 5-quart crockery cooker place the onion and garlic. Top with the chicken pieces. In a bowl combine the undrained tomatoes, tomato paste, wine or broth, lemon juice, bay leaves, salt and crushed red pepper. Pour over all.

Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 7 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

If using low-heat setting, turn to high-heat setting. Remove bay leaves. Stir in shrimp and artichoke hearts. Cover; cook for 5 minutes more. Serve chicken and shrimp mixture over hot cooked orzo. Sprinkle with feta cheese.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cowboy Stew

My daughter has swim lessons tonight, so I figured a slow cooker recipe would be perfect, in case things get hectic. This recipe from A Year of CrockPotting is bubbling away as I type this entry. The house smells great! I'm planning to serve it with tortilla chips and carrot and celery sticks. Is it dinnertime yet?

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Rotella's yummy bread

MSPI-friendly bread (beyond your basic Italian white) can be hard to find, and when you do, it's usually quite expensive. I must admit, I am very fortunate, thanks to Rotella's Italian Bakery.

All their bread is dairy-free and certified Kosher, and I have yet to come across any bread that has soy flour in it. Their factory and outlet store is located only a few minutes from my house. I go there, load up on several loaves for a very cheap price (85 cents a loaf!) and throw it in the freezer.

I know, I am soooooo lucky! I've even been hesitant to write about it on the blog because I didn't want to brag! Well, you're in luck, too!

I was checking out Rotella's website (where they post all their ingredient info) the other day, and found that they sell several types of their bread by the case and mail it to you! You too can have this awesome bread!

OK, you do have to buy a case, but just throw it in your freezer. Trust me, their bread tastes great, even after being frozen for a couple of months.

Just so you know, you won't be able to buy it as cheaply as I do. You'll probably end up paying about $2 a loaf, but that's still a good price.

I highly recommend the Wheat Berry. It's to die for. If you've ever had an Arby's Market Fresh sandwich, that's the bread. So yummy!

If you end up buying some bread this way, leave a comment and let me know how it worked out for you. That way the other moms who read this will know, too!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Frequently Asked Questions

I’m often asked the same questions over and over by parents who are new to MSPI. I thought I would go ahead and answer some of them here. If you have a question that you don’t see answered here, leave a comment, and I’ll do my best to answer it. Remember, I’m not an expert, just a mom who has “been there, done that”!

I’ve taken dairy and soy out of my diet, and my baby is still having a reaction. What gives?
Keep in mind that it can take two to four weeks for dairy/soy to completely leave your system as well as your baby's. If you've only been on the diet for a few days, then you may just need to give it more time. I know, I know ... your patience is running pretty thin by this point, but hang in there!

If you've given the diet plenty of time, first thing you should do is double check the ingredients you use. For example, chicken broths often contain dairy or soy. Always, always read labels! Don’t take my word for it that something is safe. You are ultimately responsible for what you eat!

Second thing you should do is double check the ingredients in any medications or vitamins that you (or your baby) are taking. Lactose is often used in medications! RxList is really helpful.

A third thing you should do is double check the prepared foods you are eating. The ingredient lists may not list dairy, but cross-contamination is very possible. Familiarize yourself with Kosher symbols. They are a good indicator of what is or isn't dairy-free. If there's a D or DE listed next to the symbol, then that means there's dairy in the item or it was processed on equipment that also processes dairy -- thus cross-contamination. Also look for the words parve or pareve. That means it is certified dairy-free!

Another problem could be that your baby may have intolerances or allergies beyond milk and soy. Keep a food diary and try to correlate your baby’s reactions to what you’ve been eating. You can try eliminating other foods from your diet. Some you might try include beef, gluten, eggs and peanuts. Remove one at a time and see what happens. Another option would be to try the Elimination Diet.

Soy(bean) oil and soy lecithin are common ingredients in a lot of the food you use in your recipes. Are they safe?
For most MSPI kids, soy oil and soy lecithin (an emulsifier) are OK because they don't contain protein, but some kiddos still react to them. You'll just have to figure out what works for you!

Do you have a list of MSPI-friendly foods?
I don't have a list of foods available, and I'm not going to type one up. Why? Because what's MSPI-friendly for me may not be MSPI-friendly for you because of soy oil, lecithin and cross contamination. Remember, you are ultimately responsible for what you eat. I've actually received messages from people who were angry with me because a product I use wasn't safe for them, and I don't like hate mail! So sorry, you can blame them for the lack of list. I also feel it is incredibly important that you get in the trenches and read ingredient labels. Yes, it's difficult and time-consuming. I've been there! But you won't become efficient at it without practice. Also, manufacturers are notorious for changing recipes and formulations of their products. What may be MSPI-friendly one month, may not be the next, and the formulas can vary depending on where you live and where the products are manufactured.

I'm happy to share what products I use (and I have a few listed in the following FAQs) on an individual basis, so feel free to drop me an e-mail and ask about individual products -- not a list. You can also check out the Product Spotlights thread under the Discussions tab on my Facebook page.

What MSPI-friendly chocolate chips do you use?
My favorite chocolate chips are the 365 brand of vegan chocolate chips at Whole Foods. Also, Enjoy Life Foods' chocolate chips are completely dairy and soy free. There's a store locater on their website. If your baby can handle a small amount of milk through cross contamination, then you might be able to use Ghiradelli's semi sweet chocolate chips, which are available in lots of stores.

What MSPI-friendly margarines do you use?
I’ve used Bestlife Foods Buttery Spreads, Fleischmann’s Unsalted stick margarine, Blue Bonnet Light stick and tub margarine, and Smart Balance Light tub margarine. For baking, I get better results when I substitute butter-flavored Crisco for butter, rather than using margarine because there’s too much water in the margarine. I've also heard great things about using coconut oil as a substitute for butter in recipes.

What MSPI-friendly breads and buns do you use?
Since starting this diet and hearing from all of you, I've come to realize that the bread for sale in the grocery store is very regional. For example, I use Rotella's bread and buns, but it's a local bread maker here in Omaha. Unless you live in the surrounding area, you probably can't get it. If you've looked at every single bread offered at your store (including the freezer section for bread dough) and still come up empty, you can look outside your store. Check your local bakery. Maybe they have something you can eat. Or what about making your own? There are several recipes on my blog you can try or look into getting a bread machine. You won't regret one of those machines. They're simple to use and the bread you make is super delicious.

Any advice on eating at restaurants?
Several of the fast food and chain restaurants post allergen/ingredient information on their websites. Check them out and compile a list of the foods you can eat from their menus. Keep in mind that restaurants have been known to change their recipes and ingredients, so update your list periodically. If a national restaurant doesn’t post ingredient information on their website, try contacting their customer service department. For  links to restaurants' allergen information, check out the Discussions area of my Facebook page.

If you’re eating at a local restaurant, try calling ahead to talk to someone in their kitchen. They are often more than willing to talk over menu options with you, especially if you call at a slow time of day.

The most important thing to remember is that despite what a restaurant's ingredient information may say, mistakes can be made by restaurant personnel and cross-contamination is always a problem. When in doubt, only eat food you've prepared!

I’m going on vacation, any advice?
Take along items you know you can eat – especially anything you might have a hard time buying at unfamiliar stores. I always bring MSPI-friendly bread, margarine and rice milk. And when possible, stay at a place that has access to a kitchen of some sort. Condos often have full-size kitchens, and many hotel rooms now offer microwaves and refrigerators. You can prepare your own food that way.

I’m having a hard time juggling my family’s meals and my meals. Any advice?
The best advice I can offer is to do what my family does: Our family meals are all MSPI-friendly. I don’t have time to cook two meals for every dinner. How exhausting! The trick is to prepare tasty "normal" meals that don’t require milk or soy. My husband and oldest daughter still drink milk and eat yogurt, ice cream and cheese on their own, but our dinner every evening is something all of us can eat. The majority of the recipes on this blog are intended for the entire family.

I’ve relied on prepared foods in the past because dinnertime is so hectic around my house, and since most prepared foods aren’t an option now, I’m really struggling with getting dinner on the table. Any advice?
Here are some strategies that might help you:

1) Utilize your freezer. Double, even triple, recipes that are safe for you to eat and put the extras in the freezer. You can do the cooking during nap time, evenings after the kids are in bed or weekends when you have more help around the house. That way they can thaw during the day and are easy to reheat at dinner time. 30 Day Gourmet has a lot of good information about freezer cooking and recipes that can be adapted to the MSPI diet. This page over at Once a Month Mom is also super helpful with lots of dairy-free recipes, just avoid the soy.

2) Grill out! Now that the weather is getting nice, utilize your grill. Marinate a bunch of chicken breasts/steaks/pork chops/etc. and grill them when convenient. Cut up the leftovers for salads/other meals. Again, store them in your freezer.

3) Do some slow cooking. Find slow cooker recipes that are safe for you, throw the items in the slow cooker in the morning, and a meal will be ready for you at dinnertime. You can even do your prep work the night before if mornings are hectic for you. A Year of CrockPotting is a great blog full of recipes that can be adapted to MSPI cooking.

Some of your recipes are marked as Vegetarian, but they call for chicken broth and other meat ingredients. That's not vegetarian.
If I've marked something as Vegetarian, it means the recipe is already meat-free or can be easily adapted to meat-free by substituting vegetable broth for chicken broth or leaving the meat out. I have faith in your abilities to figure it out!

I already have a child with MSPI and am expecting again. Will going on the MSPI diet during the pregnancy make a difference, and if so, when should I start?
There really isn't any conclusive evidence that I've seen about how being on the diet prior to birth affects the baby. I've heard from moms who swear by it and others who saw no difference. However, I can share with you my personal experience. I went on the diet one month prior to birth. By doing this, I knew my milk would be clean from the get-go, making reactions minimal. I figured that if my baby was completely symptom free by 2 months old, I would try some dairy and watch for a reaction. However, I had a small slip-up in my diet when she was a few weeks old and she reacted. Her reaction was minimal and it only took a few days to clear up, as opposed to the weeks it took my son when he was a newborn, since my system was so full of dairy then. Life was so much easier the second time around!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Vanilla Dairy-Free Ice Cream

My baby is 6 months old today! Wow! Where has the time gone? I can't believe I've been hanging in there with this crazy "diet" for nearly half a year.

One thing I've really missed this summer is ice cream, so when I saw this recipe on the "I'm an Organizing Junkie" blog, I just knew I had to post it.

I haven't had the chance to try it out yet (I'm out of marshmallows.) but I will as soon as I can make it to the store. I'll let you know how it turns out!

By the way, I am soooo not an organizing junkie myself, which is why I keep an eye on that blog. I keep hoping it will rub off on me! ;)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Curried Shrimp and Summer Vegetable Couscous

This recipe from the Associated Press just screams summer to me. Light and fresh flavors with a relatively simple preparation. Plus, all those veggies!

You can substitute cooked chicken for the shrimp or skip the meat and use vegetable stock to make it vegetarian.

Curried Shrimp and Summer Vegetable Couscous

Start to finish: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 lb. broccoli florets
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2-1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
14-1/2 oz. can MSPI-friendly chicken broth
12 oz. uncooked peeled and deveined medium shrimp
10 oz. whole-wheat couscous

In a large skillet with a lid, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add scallions and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the broccoli, zucchini and bell pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the curry powder, salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth and increase heat to high. Cover and bring to a boil.

Stir in the shrimp, then add the couscous and stir to combine. Remove the skillet from the heat, replace the cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

I Can't Believe It's Reduced-Fat Whole Wheat Banana Bread

I don't know about you, but I always have a bunch of bananas hanging out in my freezer. They usually end up there because my daughter insists that I buy bananas at the store and then she never eats them. So I'm always a fan of any recipe that uses those suckers up.

This recipe from RecipeZaar fits the bill but also is quite healthy and is MSPI-friendly. Great for snacking!

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes.

Orange Cake

Sorry about the lack of updating; I've been out of town for several days. That's summer for you!

Anyway, here's a fabulous-looking recipe from the "Full Bellies, Happy Kids!" blog. No substitutions necessary!

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Waldorf Coleslaw

I've discovered another great cooking blog: Baking Bites. I'll be posting recipes that intrigue me, but feel free to check it out on your own!

I adore Waldorf salad, so this recipe caught my eye. To make the recipe MSPI-friendly, just eliminate the yogurt and increase the amount of mayonnaise.

Skillet Franks

Another kid-friendly recipe from Taste of Home that Tina recommended.

Just be sure to double check your hot dogs for milk and soy, and substitute oil or dairy-free margarine for the butter.

Three Beans and Sausage

My friend Tina passed along a couple of kid- and MSPI-friendly meals. This recipe from Taste of Home is also super easy to prepare because you throw everything in the slow cooker.

If you can't find MSPI-friendly bouillon, just substitute 1 cup of safe chicken broth for the bouillon and water.

Potato Green Bean Medley

Take advantage of summer's fresh green beans for this yummy side dish. This recipe from Taste of Home has bacon in it, so you know I love it!

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Summer Succotash Salad

Most succotash recipes contain butter and cream, but this recipe from Cook's Country drops the dairy and opts for a vinaigrette that's light and fresh.

Summer Succotash Salad

Serves 4

This salad can be kept covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day. If making the salad in advance, add the basil just before serving.

3 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. honey
1/2 small red onion, minced
Table salt and ground black pepper
3/4 lb. green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half crosswise
2 ears corn , kernels removed from cobs
1/2 lb. frozen lima beans
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil

Stir oil, lemon juice, honey, red onion, and salt and pepper to taste together in small bowl.

Bring 2 1/2 quarts water to boil in large saucepan. Add 1 teaspoon salt and green beans and cook for 1 minute. Add corn and lima beans and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain vegetables into colander and rinse under cold running water until cool. Drain vegetables well and transfer to serving bowl.

Toss vegetables with dressing to coat evenly. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sweet 'n' Crunchy Mix

This recipe from Taste of Home would be great for snacking on while hanging out by the pool or watching fireworks. Just substitute dairy-free margarine or oil for the butter.

Dairy-Free Dill Dip

If you're planning to attend a party over the holiday weekend, chances are there will be a veggie tray and you won't be able to eat the dip. So bring your own dip! I found this recipe on RecipeZaar and thought it looked pretty good. Just make sure your mayonnaise is MSPI-friendly.

Barbecue Beef Ribs

My hubby has to work on the Fourth of July, so I've decided to take it easy on myself and make dinner in the slow cooker. This recipe from A Year of CrockPotting fits the bill. Just make sure you use MSPI-friendly barbecue sauce.

John absolutely adores ribs, so I'm sure I'll be his hero after he eats this!

Beer 'n' Brat Biscuits

My husband and I used to live in Wisconsin, so beer and brats go together like peanut butter and jelly in our house. Since I'm nursing JD, beer isn't exactly my beverage of choice, but that doesn't stop me from cooking with it! (The alcohol cook out.)

This recipe from Taste of Home offers a nice snack for the holiday weekend.

Strawberry Watermelon Slush

With the Fourth of July three-day weekend just a few days away, I thought I would post some recipes that would help you have a fun and delicious holiday!

When everyone else is having ice cream, this recipe from Taste of Home should help quench your thirst and keep you from feeling too sorry for yourself!

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes.

Friday, June 27, 2008

We've started solids!

At JD's 4-month well check last month, his doctor recommended we put off starting solids until he was 6 months old in order to allow his gut time to mature more. I was on board with that, but JD had other ideas. A few weeks ago, he went from sleeping through the night (11 -12 hours!) to waking twice a night to eat. My big (nearly 18 pounds!) little boy needed more food than just breastmilk. So I spoke with the doctor, and we started solids.

Although most babies start with rice cereal, our pediatrician recommended we hold off on grains because JD is more likely to have problems with them. So bring on the veggies!

I'm planning to make all of JD's baby food at home. I did for Libby, so it's nothing new for me. But it's so much more important this time around since some store-bought baby food has dairy contamination problems. (I've been told that Gerber should be avoided.)

JD has successfully eaten sweet potatoes without any reaction for three days now! Of course, the first time I gave it to him, he wasn't too keen on it -- as you can see from the photo below. Thankfully, he's since warmed up to it! Next on the list to try: butternut squash.

CrockPot Salsa Chicken

Another recipe from Stephanie's blog. I've made something similar to this prior to my MSPI days, but it had a package of cream cheese stirred into it at the end. Alas, no cream cheese now, but this recipe is great even without it!

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

CrockPot Coconut Cake

I discovered a blog last week that I absolutely adore: A Year of CrockPotting. Stephanie posts a CrockPot recipe every day, and several of them are MSPI-friendly! And for those of you that have to cut out gluten as well, Stephanie cooks gluten-free! I'll be posting a bunch of her recipes as I try them, here's the first.

I made this yesterday, using a Duncan Hines cake mix. I left off the coconut flakes. (I love coconut milk but hate coconut. Go figure!) Obviously, you can't use the cream cheese frosting, but vanilla frosting works great, as well. I didn't even bother to frost it; it was great without it!

Libby was my big helper when making the cake, although her favorite part was licking the beaters. ;)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Almond Fruit Bars

Here's a yummy recipe from Everyday Food magazine. It calls for using a stick of butter, but I substituted a 1/2 cup of butter-flavored Crisco with good results.

I highly recommend lining the baking pan with foil sleeves before adding in the ingredients. After baking and cooling, you can lift out the entire dessert to a cutting board. So much easier to cut the bars this way!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chicken and Sausage Paella

It's not quite authentic, like the paella I had in Spain, but this recipe from FamilyFun still looks good -- and it's MSPI-friendly!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Puppy Chow

I loved this sweet snack mix as a kid (and an adult) but haven't made it in quite a while. It didn't even occur to me that it could be made MSPI-friendly. Just make sure you use safe chocolate chips, peanut butter and margarine. Here's a recipe from Chex that I like to use. They call it Muddy Buddies, but I've always called it Puppy Chow.

This is a great snack to make with your kids. Libby had a ton of fun shaking the bag!

Crunchy No-Fry Chicken

Try this recipe from Campbell's the next time you're craving fried chicken. It's dairy-free and slashes the calories found in regular fried chicken. Just make sure you use MSPI-friendly chicken broth.

Friday, June 13, 2008

BBQ Macaroni Salad

Here's a sweet and spicy recipe from Cook's Country. It's a great make-ahead option for summer barbecues. Use your favorite MSPI-friendly barbecue sauce.

BBQ Macaroni Salad

Serves 8 to 10.

Table salt
1 lb. elbow macaroni
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped fine
1 rib celery, chopped fine
4 scallions, sliced thin
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. hot sauce
1 tsp. chili powder
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
Ground black pepper

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and macaroni and cook until nearly tender, about 5 minutes. Drain in colander and rinse with cold water until cool, then drain once more, briefly, so that pasta is still moist; transfer to large bowl.

Stir in bell pepper, celery, scallions, vinegar, hot sauce, chili powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper, and let sit until flavors are absorbed, about 2 minutes. Stir in mayonnaise and barbecue sauce and let sit until salad is no longer watery, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve. (The salad can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Check seasonings before serving.)

Slow-Cooked Italian Chicken

Here's an easy slow-cooker recipe from Taste of Home.